June 3 Legislative Update

ASD Bill Passes House

HB 1080- Achievement School District, passed the House Thursday by a vote of 60-49 (click here to see the final vote tally).  There was a good deal of debate on the floor about the wisdom of transferring some of the lowest performing public schools to for-profit charter operators.  A number of members crossed party lines in the vote.  Notably, 10 members were not present for the vote and one did not vote at all.

The ASD bill now moves to the Senate.  The Senate has put forth what appears to be an alternative idea for dealing with low-performing schools (see the Senate budget review below).  Please start communicating with your Senator(s) in opposition to HB 1080.

One of the noteworthy aspects of the ASD bill is that much of its backing is coming from out-of-state groups and money.  Click here to read a more in-depth investigative report on this.

HB 1080 Talking Points

  • HB 1080 requires local school districts to maintain school buildings despite the fact the State has taken control of the campuses.If the State is going to take control of a school, then it should be responsible for the maintenance of the building.
  • The local school district will also continue to provide transportation for students to the school.Again, this is another responsibility the school district should not be required to maintain if the state assumes control of a school.
  • This framework could cause a number of staffing issues for school districts.
  • The ASD model has not shown to be successful in other states that have experimented with similar measures, including Tennessee and Michigan.
  • A school’s identification of low-performing and eligibility to be put into the ASD is based on a school grading system with which the North Carolina House has openly not agreed.Many schools that could be considered perennially low-performing could be improving in growth but remaining stagnant in achievement.
  • Four actions were made permissible to North Carolina school districts for low-performing schools per the Race to The Top Grant provisions, of which one was to operate a low performing school like a charter. School districts have not implemented all of these available procedures.
  • There is a new reform model created called the Principal Turnaround Model, which would allow for increased compensation packages for new principals in select low-performing schools. However, the number of schools around the state that can use this model would be capped at 5.
  • The bill attempts to essentially reward districts that transfer schools to the ASD by allowing them to create “Innovation Zones,” areas where they can operate schools with charter-like flexibility. But this provision is a red herring because school districts already have the authority to apply to the SBE to operate some schools with charter-like flexibility and some have already utilized this option.

Senate Budget Approved

The Senate completed its budget work this week, releasing the full document late Tuesday night, moving it through the appropriations committee the following day, and then taking it up on the Senate floor Thursday/Friday.  Final approval was given early this morning.

Like the House, the Senate’s budget increases K-12 education spending above what had been budgeted for fiscal year 2016-17.  The Senate’s K-12 spending expansion is 1.2% smaller than that proposed by the House (3.2% vs. 4.4%).  However, the Senate proposes a larger teacher pay package with teachers receiving salary increases averaging 6.2% (compared to 4.1% average increases in the House budget).  The Senate budget also restores yearly step increases to the teacher salary schedule.  School administrators receive step increases and bonuses ($2,000 bonuses for principals and $500 bonuses for assistant principals).  For noncertified personnel, $15 million is budgeted for increases and bonuses based upon local policies (no across-the-board increase).

The major K-12 policy provision in the budget is a dramatic expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program.  Spending on vouchers would double in 2016-17 and a reserve fund would be created to forward fund the program.  Language would be put into statute creating an automatic $10 million increase in appropriations each fiscal year to be directed to the reserve fund over the next decade, topping out at $134.8 million in 2027-28.

Other notable Senate budget provisions:

Year-Round School Definition.  Districts that have year-round schools would have to follow a new definition of year-round school.  The new definition would be:

“a multi-track school that remains in session for the entire calendar year by utilizing at least one of the following plans:

(1) A plan that divides students into four groups and requires each to be in school for three assigned and staggered quarters each school year.

(2) A plan that provides that students shall be scheduled to attend 45 days of classes followed by 15 days of vacation repeated throughout the school year.

(3) A plan that divides the school year into five nine-week sessions of classes and requires each student to attend four of the five nine-week sessions to complete the school year.”

          *If this new definition will cause problems for your school district please let us know immediately.*

Virtual Charter Schools.  There would be identical language to the House provision requiring the SBE to exclude four categories of students when calculating the withdrawal rate for the virtual charter pilots.

ADM Growth.  Public school ADM growth is fully funded ($46.8 million).

Performance Pay for Grade 3 Teachers.  $10 million is set aside for a pilot program where third grade teachers are given salary supplements for achieving high growth scores on student reading assessments.  Half of the total set-aside would go to the teachers in the top 25% of statewide grade 3 reading growth scores and the other half would go to each LEA’s top 25% of grade 3 reading growth achievers.

Teacher Assistant Scholarship Pilots.  A pilot program would be set up for Anson, Franklin, Moore, Richmond, and Scotland to provide tuition assistance payments to TAs seeking the academic requirements for full teaching licensure.

Lab Schools.  Each UNC school of education would be required to establish a laboratory school.  The purpose of the lab schools would be to “improve student performance in local school administrative units with low-performing schools by providing an enhanced education program for students residing in those units and to provide exposure and training for teachers and principals to successfully address challenges existing in high needs school settings.”  These lab schools would operate similar to and be funded like charter schools.

Click here for a comparison chart of the line-item adjustments in the House and Senate budgets prepared by DPI.

Click here for a comparison of the teacher pay plans in the House and Senate budgets.

House Budget Information

Click here for a summary of the House-passed budget.

Click here to read the House budget money report.

Common Core/High School Math

The Senate and the State Board of Education appear to be on a collision course over the issue of High School Mathematics content standards and course sequencing.  A series of revisions to the High School Math standards approved by the State Board this week retain the controversial Integrated Math courses that high schools have been using for the past five years.  But just a day before the vote, the Senate Education Committee brought a bill up for discussion (HB 657) to require the State Board to scrap what they have developed for revisions and go back to the traditional Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II courses that were used prior to 2011.  The Board would have to implement the Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II standards for the school year that begins Fall of 2016.  It is expected that Senate Ed will take action on the bill next Wednesday.  Click here for a summary of the bill.

HB 539

The charter school community is continuing to push strongly for the House to concur with HB 539.  Continue contacting your House member(s) in opposition.  Also continue communicating locally to develop grassroots opposition to HB 539 within your communities.  Remember that HB 539 could come up at any time.

Resources & Points to Remember

Below are materials and informational items to circulate in your communities.

*A one-page sheet with talking points on HB 539 can be found here.

*A short video on this issue can be found here.  Make sure to continue sharing this video on social media and encourage others to do so.

*A longer Myth/Fact sheet on the issue can be found here.

*Legislators and others need to understand the pots of monies that school districts would have to transfer if HB 539 becomes law (reimbursements, gifts, federal grants, etc.).  A review of the types of monies at risk can be found here. 

*Charter schools can already seek out many of the monies at issue in HB 539 without having to take them from school districts.  For example, school districts would have to transfer E-rate reimbursements under HB 539 but charters already have the ability to seek out E-Rate reimbursements if they so choose.

*There are policies and laws that limit how federal grants and reimbursements are used and which students may be served.  Charters continue to claim that despite these policies and laws, they should be entitled to a share of federal grants and reimbursements that a school district receives.

*Charters continue to claim that charter students receive only 75 cents for every dollar provided to LEAs.  This is a flawed calculation based on factors unrelated to per-pupil funding and reflects an apples-to-oranges comparison of district and charter funding.


Action Bills: Click here for a list of NCSBA-tracked bills that had action this week.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, June 6

7:00 PM
The House and Senate will convene for session.

Tuesday, June 7

1:00 PM
The House Elections Committee will meet and take up the following bills: HB 1133-Partisan Election/Transylvania Bd. of Ed.

Wednesday, June 8

Thursday, June 9

North Carolina School Boards AssociationJune 3 Legislative Update